Features

Michael S. Smith’s Top Product Picks

The Obama White House Decorator’s favorite kitchen and bath products
By Alice Liao
July 06, 2010

If nothing else, Obama White House Decorator Michael S. Smith is discreet. When asked about his experience designing for the first family, all he offered was, “It’s been an honor and it’s still ongoing. They’re an amazing family.” Smith’s discretion, no doubt, has served him well, as his is a high-profile clientele that extends across the world. His skill and talent, of course, are undeniable and have earned him a bevy of accolades, including a place in the 2002 and 2004 editions of Architectural Digest’s The AD 100 and recognition as Elle Décor’s 2003 Designer of the Year.

Smith’s accomplishments, however, are not just limited to his work in interior spaces. His signature furniture and fabric line, Jasper, as well as his product collections for a variety of manufacturers, such as Kohler’s Kallista and Ann Sacks, have also enjoyed much success, which he attributes to their inspiration. “I always think about what I need in terms of my own projects,” he said. “As a result, I find places within the market where products just don’t exist.”

Not surprisingly, many of Smith’s product designs, if not all, end up in his firm’s work. He noted, “We’re the biggest customers on the residential level of all of our own Kallista products,” of which there are four collections, including Town. All boast classic appeal and are “very jewel-like and beautifully made,” Smith said. In his kitchen designs, while custom cabinetry tends to dominate, Smith has on occasion specified Arclinea’s Italia, which he “loves.” Of particular interest is its hardware. He added, “I’m really into its handle,” a no-nonsense, sleek rectilinear design that is integrated into the cabinet door. When it comes to kitchen faucets, Smith is not a fan of pullouts, but Kohler’s new Purist offers up an attractive take on a popular must-have. He noted, “As someone who often has to spec pullouts, which are really impossible, I have to say it’s really pretty.” For appliances, Smith frequently turns to BlueStar ranges, which he loves for their great cooking performance and good looks. He also admits a fondness for Wolf and its distinctive red knobs, as well as Sub-Zero’s Pro 48 glass-door refrigerator, which combines high-tech food preservation with compelling style. Smith said, “I love that.” The same has probably been said of Smith’s work for the first family. This past February, the much-in-demand designer was named by President Obama to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House.
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